Hurricane facts and hysterics

The arrivals of hurricanes Harvey and Irma led to predictable screaming about global climate change and the connection to hurricanes.

The truth comes from Mike Smith:

Whether it is Leonard Pitts or New Republicthe misinformation about global warming and its connection, if any, to U.S. hurricanes gotten really silly. Because the genuine science doesn’t support the contention, their argument is reduced to this:

“And the timing of them, combined with the historic awfulness of them, feels more sinister than simple coincidence, does it not?”

Feels more sinister”? — The arguments for catastrophic global warming have jumped the shark.

Fact: Until August 25, 2017, when Harvey came ashore, the United States (including Hawaii) went a record 11 years and 10 months without a major hurricane. The period of record is from 1850 to the present. The former record was from 1900 to 1906, so we nearly doubled the previous record — very good news. 

Fact: Worldwide, there is no upward trend in hurricanesSee the data for yourself (below).

Both graphs courtesy Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., click to enlarge

Fact: Worldwide, natural disaster costs are lessening.

Is global warming an issue? Yes, it is, as I have stated many times. But, exaggeration or appeals to feelings do far more harm than good.

During a hurricane in 1900, a storm surge rose out of the Gulf of Mexico and annihilated Galveston, Texas, killing about 8,000 men, women and children.

In 1935, at least 408 people died when another cyclone slammed into the Florida Keys, many of them World War I veterans working on construction projects.

And in 1957, Hurricane Audrey’s storm surges crashed into the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, killing 390 people.

Hurricane Irma, which slammed into Florida over the weekend, was in a similar league as those storms in its sheer power, and the number of people living in vulnerable areas has only grown.

So how has the number of deaths — in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as of Monday night — remained in single digits?

The answer is the modern science of hurricane monitoring and preparation, which has saved countless lives as forecasting, satellite monitoring and government planning have dramatically improved in recent decades.

One study in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews calculated that America suffered an average of 1,400 hurricane deaths per decade from 1910 to 1939, 700 deaths per decade from 1940 to 1969, and about 250 deaths per decade from 1970 to 1999.

“The number of people killed in hurricanes halves about every 25 years, in spite of the fact that coastal populations have been increasing, because of what we’re doing with forecasting,” said Hugh Willoughby, a professor of meteorology at Florida International University in Miami.

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